AP's retracted stimulus bill falsehood finds a new home at Fox

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On Fox News, Carl Cameron and Laura Ingraham repeated or uncritically reported the false Republican claim -- originating in an AP article -- that, in Cameron's words, the economic stimulus bill would allow "illegal aliens" to claim "tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple." Cameron and Ingraham advanced the falsehood even after a revised version of the AP article made clear that the bill excludes undocumented immigrants.

On January 29, Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham repeated or uncritically reported the false Republican claim -- originating in a January 29 Associated Press article -- that, in Cameron's words, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would allow "illegal aliens" to claim "tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple." The AP article had cited only a single anonymous Republican official pushing the falsehood, and Cameron and Ingraham advanced it even after a revised version of the AP article -- available in the Nexis database at 8:02 p.m. GMT (3:02 p.m. ET) -- made clear that the stimulus bill limits eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credit to individuals with Social Security Numbers, thereby excluding undocumented immigrants.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically precludes from eligibility for the Making Work Pay tax credit of $500 per individual and $1,000 per family "any nonresident alien individual" or "any individual unless the requirements of [the Earned Income Tax Credit] are met." Requirements to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit include "a social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration."

Yet in discussing the stimulus bill, Ingraham and Cameron each referred to the debunked falsehood that undocumented immigrants could receive tax credits under the act:

  • Discussing Senate negotiations over the version of the act passed by the House, Cameron claimed on Fox News' Special Report: "Senate Republicans intend to kill a House-passed provision that they say could make illegal aliens eligible for tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple. Democrats closed a similar loophole when it was pointed out in a past stimulus package, and insist that no such loophole exists now."
  • On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, moments after stating that "if you give lower-income workers a $500 check, they're probably going to use it to pay off debts," Ingraham claimed, "Illegal aliens are going to get money under this bill if that provision is not changed."

As Media Matters for America documented, a January 29 headline on the Drudge Report stated, "Hill Republican: Stimulus Gives Cash To Illegals," and linked to the original AP article, that falsely reported -- citing only a single anonymous Republican source -- that "[t]he $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants." The revised AP article reported: "Two senior GOP congressional officials expressed concern Thursday that the bill could steer government checks to undocumented workers, but in fact the measure indicates that Social Security numbers are needed to claim tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple. It also expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens."

From the January 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

CAMERON: Senate Republicans intend to kill a House-passed provision that they say could make illegal aliens eligible for tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple. Democrats closed a similar loophole when it was pointed out in a past stimulus package, and insist that no such loophole exists now.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee signaled that the House-passed version is going to be changed on many fronts.

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND): I think there is general agreement there has to be a substantial economic recovery package, but what came over from the House can be substantially improved.

From the January 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY (host): Let me ask specifics. All right. Obama is going to cut taxes for the working class. And he's going to send everybody between 500 bucks and $1,000. Would you do that?

INGRAHAM: Well, no. I don't think that, again, creates jobs and creates economic growth.

O'REILLY: Well, it gives people more money to spend.

INGRAHAM: No, Bill, if you give lower-income workers a $500 check, they're probably going to use it to pay off debts. And this is the economists speaking, not me. People who are a lot smarter on this than I am. They're going to pay off debts. And they're also going to save it for a rainy day because they're fearful. You need to give people incentives and encouragement to dip back into this economy, not just these temporary fixes.

O'REILLY: What about the people out of work? What - people -- 7.5 percent out of work right now? Do we do anything for them?

INGRAHAM: Grow business, Bill. Make this country the place to do business. And tell the world --

O'REILLY: OK, but what about the 7.5 percent out of work right now.

INGRAHAM: Right. And there's going to be pain.

O'REILLY: You help them?

INGRAHAM: There's going to be pain. We might want to consider measures to help them, but don't put it in a bill that you're calling a stimulus bill. It's a fraud. And the people, Bill, are beginning to realize that.

O'REILLY: OK.

INGRAHAM: They're beginning to see --

O'REILLY: Well, there's absolutely --

INGRAHAM: -- in the light of day of what's happening.

O'REILLY: -- a lot of certainty. And when I laid out in the "Talking Points Memo" how so much of this money is social engineering, I think people are getting it. Real quick.

INGRAHAM: Yeah. Illegal aliens are going to get money under this bill if that provision is not changed.

O'REILLY: Well, if that happens, then it'll be a major scandal. We'll see.

Posted In
Economy, Immigration
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Carl Cameron, Laura Ingraham
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor, Special Report with Bret Baier
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.